Posted by Vi Hughes on Jan 30, 2020

This last Tuesday we heard from Patricia Estabrooks, the Program Coordinator for the Music Enrichment Program of the Edmonton String Players Association. She was assisted by Kristine Dahm, the Vice President of the association. We were also treated to a violin selection by one of their students, Andrew Veldkamp.

The Music Enrichment Program is a long established program that was originally sponsored by Edmonton Public Schools, but became independently run in 2013 when the Public Schools withdrew from funding them. They are now a charitable, volunteer run non-profit group. Their goal is to provide music enrichment and affordable instruction in a group setting. They provide instruction in violin, viola, cello, bass and classical guitar to both children and adults through graduated group instruction. They also provide orchestral and chamber group instruction, music theory and music history instruction. They currently have one hundred twenty-two students, spread over fourteen different classes and five orchestras.

String instruction has many benefits. Playing a string instrument requires one to be able to read music and transfer that knowledge out through one hand to the instrument, while listening to the sound and controlling the other arm and hand on the bow. It also requires teamwork, co-operation, concentration, focus and an innate understanding of mathematical principals. The program’s aim is to teach their students to play with skill and finesse. The program can serve as a stepping-stone towards playing at a higher level.

They currently operate out of one small office space and leased spaces in six different schools. Recently they were able to find space in a church that will give them a small office space and a reliable practice space. The use of school spaces has become more of an issue recently with the advent of P3 schools where there is a private building owner in addition to the school administration to deal with when negotiating spaces, times and costs for their classes. Communication about last minute changes to availability of spaces is sometimes not timely and the students and instructor end up out in the cold with no one to let them in to the building.

They currently rely mainly on casinos and bingos for funding and are currently looking to find alternative source of funding. This program can open up a whole new world for children who would otherwise not have this opportunity. More information is available on their website at